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Tags free will , predeterminism

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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:17 AM   #241
Myriad
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
You don't ask to put the computer in jail. Go to the police station and try. They'll look at you like you're crazy.

That's only because what we do to a computer, should it misbehave in such a way as to injure or kill a human, would be inhumane by present-day moral standards if applied to a misbehaving human. Not because the computer is not held responsible.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:19 AM   #242
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
Therefore, even if contemporary moral systems are incompatible with determinism (which you have not shown), that points to a possible flaw in the design of contemporary moral systems, not to any logically valid argument that the universe cannot be deterministic.
Philosophies such as determinism also change. The same as moral systems.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:23 AM   #243
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
That's only because what we do to a computer, should it misbehave in such a way as to injure or kill a human, would be inhumane by present-day moral standards if applied to a misbehaving human. Not because the computer is not held responsible.
I don't see that difference. The computer can have a piece changed, the human being can have his behavior modified. You can treat your old computer very well and if it fails your attitude will be very different from if your child fails in something morally important. Stealing, for example. Don't you see it?

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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:24 AM   #244
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Philosophies such as determinism also change. The same as moral systems.
Things are either true or they aren't.

Moral systems are either valid, or they aren't.

Determinism is either true or it isn't.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:26 AM   #245
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Things are either true or they aren't.

Moral systems are either valid, or they aren't.

Determinism is either true or it isn't.
Either it is neither false nor true.
Take the hammer by the handle. False or true?

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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:27 AM   #246
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Or it is neither false nor true.
You're saying that the universe may be neither deterministic nor not deterministic?
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:36 AM   #247
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Philosophies such as determinism also change.

No, they don't. We keep coming up with new ones and with neo-whatever variations, but all the old ones are still there unchanged (and many of them are still on the exam in philosophy courses). Determinism was defined perfectly well by Democritus.

What changes is our understanding of how a given philosophy might apply to systems in the real world. Democritus had no idea a deterministic machine could solve problems, remember past events, or form plans of action. We know better now.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:51 AM   #248
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I don't see that difference. The computer can have a piece changed, the human being can have his behavior modified. You can treat your old computer very well and if it fails your attitude will be very different from if your child fails in something morally important. Stealing, for example. Don't you see it?

You don't think removing parts from a person or wiping a person's memory to correct their behavior, or destroying them completely to replace them with a smarter person, would be considered excessive punishments? We routinely do those things to computers to correct their behavior.

Of course my attitude is different. I would never treat a person that way. We treat people more kindly and correct their misbehavior in much gentler ways, for a variety of good reasons.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 09:54 AM   #249
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
How can I be responsible for an action I haven't committed? If my grandfather killed his neighbor I cannot be responsible for that death.
You use metaphorical language when you say that the computer is responsible for your defeat. We are talking about moral responsibility. You don't ask to put the computer in jail. Go to the police station and try. They'll look at you like you're crazy.
While TECHNICALLY moral responsibility -- well, "moral evil" -- is defined as "something 'bad' that was caused by intentional action or inaction of a human agent", and thus a computer wouldn't qualify, it changes less than you seem to think. I can still decide whether what the computer did was good or bad, and I can still decide if a different course of action would be better.

E.g., google "the story of Mel". It contains a literal case of someone working at a computer manufacturer coding a blackjack program, and the management, which was showcasing it at conventions to win over customers, deciding that it's "bad" if it wins every time, and "good" if it 'cheats' a bit to let the customer win. Presumably because people get in a good mood if they win, and in a bad mood if they lose, and because happy people are more likely to spend money. So management decides that 'good' towards that set of criteria is to ask Mel to change the program to play worse. Sort of like how you would give a new set of rules to a human dealer at a real casino, IF your goal wasn't as much to make money at the blackjack table, as to get them happy enough to spend a LOT more money elsewhere. (We're talking about an age where computer prices were measured in millions of dollars. Costing ONLY a couple tens of thousands made a computer a 'mini'.)

(Mel was obviously aghast at the idea that someone's goals could possibly be anything else than to show off how well he can program the damned thing.)

At any rate, it shows that without asigning moral blame, and without wanting to take the computer in handcuffs to a court, one can still decide what is 'good' or 'bad', and one can still decide on a way to remedy it. And at no point does anyone find it obvious to go, 'well, if we can't blame it, just delete the program, discontinue the computer, burn down the factory, and plough and salt the ground'
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Old 22nd June 2019, 09:59 AM   #250
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Philosophies such as determinism also change. The same as moral systems.
Yet that is not what you have claimed.

Well, except as a dodge when I asked why would philosophy school X, Y or Z give up on their approach and go 'ah, just gas the retarded then.' THEN you suddenly are aware that there's more than one school of moral philosophy, and one may have different criteria than another.

But otherwise what you repeatedly claimed is that there's some inevitable causal connection between (A) believing in determinism, and (B) wanting to gas the retarded, just like Hitler.

What you're effectively trying to have is both an "All A are B" claim, AND a convenient excuse to handwave why counter-examples don't really count. It doesn't work that way.

So which one is it, silly? DOES it follow that inevitably, or can you dodge behind some version of 'well, there's more than one school of moral philosophy, and they change all the time'? One or the other. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 02:25 PM   #251
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I was quoting HansMustermann

This was the quote,


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The problem there is that it seems to assume that your words and actions don't ALSO cause conditioned behaviours. E.g., that, say, Ted Bundy was conditioned by X, Y or Z in his past to kill all those women, but society deciding that it's wrong to kill would totally not also cause a difference in his behaviour.

But, regardless of whether decisions are deterministic or not, they are based on the WHOLE set of available data. Which includes how society will react to it, possible punishments or rewards, etc.

And generally, the decision taking in the brain -- which by now we can even watch in real time on MRI -- is essentially a voting process. The reasons for doing it are weighed against the reasons for not doing it.

Essentially if we all just shrug and go "poor guy, he must have been conditioned to kill those women" and let him get away with it, then he'll just do it again. Because a bunch of reasons not to do it just disappeared from that column.

And this was your response,


Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Skinner affirms that familiar or social pressure determines the behaviour. Therefore a person can be influenced if he is blamed by a parent or a friend. But this is not due to moral reasoning but to personal or social influence. Therefore this personal influence can be used in more efficient ways than moral sermons.

Determinism does not imply any kind of too compassionate morality. Quite the opposite.
If either what matters is only efficacy or morality is only a weaker way to modify the behaviour, aggressive means are justified over compassionate ones. If a brutal beating is more efficient than reasoning, go and beat your son until you got tired. If cutting off the hand of the thief in a public square prevents robberies, go and cut off hands, take off eyes, heads and every else you need to.

If efficiency is the rule, there are no limits to violence. It is not a comfortable conclusion for the determinist.

Last edited by winter salt; 22nd June 2019 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 08:05 PM   #252
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
We blame things (systems) as well as people based on their perceived capacity to sense, decide, and act. That's why we don't blame young children or the intellectually disabled when they do some things we would blame neurotypical adults for. It's not because we suppose the behavior of young children or the intellectually disabled is somehow more deterministic than that of neurotypical adults. It's because we have lower expectations of good social decision-making from them (or from rocks or bolts) than from other people.
Is that "perceived capacity to sense, decide, and act" a description of free will ?
How do they develop?
Just asking.
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Old 22nd June 2019, 11:35 PM   #253
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post

The same applies to designing a better society, silly. That's all I'm saying.


And none of your silly excuses hold any water, especially since they are the SAME regardless of whether things are deterministic or not.

Yes, there are conflicts of interest, and yes things can't be solved to a PERFECT state. That's why we went at figuring out even just the legal system for at least the last 5000 years straight, and are still at perfecting it. Yes, it's a hard problem. But guess what? It's still hard regardless of whether things are deterministic or not. And nobody sane is giving up on the problem entirely just because it's hard.

You accused ME of wanting simple answers. But actually in the whole thread YOU are the only one proposing to go by just the over-simplistic notion that only one thing matters, and to just give up on solving the problem at all, if things are too hard.
Honestly, I think you're getting tangled up in your own words. Partly because you use them as fetishes.

A real conflict of interest problem is not solved by proclaiming its "optimization. You recognize that conflicts of interest are "hard to solve".
"Optimizing" is the same as "finding the best solution" and what we are talking about here is what criteria are used to seek a "better" solution to moral problems. With what criteria can you justify or not justify a decision such as forced euthanasia. To say that it is a justification that benefits "society as a whole" or that "optimizes" the options is not to say anything. For the question is: How can forced euthanasia be justified or not as a good for society as a whole? The majority you tried to introduce I think I have already shown that it is not a moral principle. And abstract words excepted, you have not produced anything.

And I think it's silly for you to make up children's stories to explain what we've all already understood. What you have to do is explain the cases that I have proposed, which are much more complex than the tales of puddles of water. It is this what I call "simplify".
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Old 22nd June 2019, 11:51 PM   #254
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
You're saying that the universe may be neither deterministic nor not deterministic?
Metaphysical determinism is a philosophical theory about the whole universe. Things are not deterministic, but the idea we have of them.
Simply put, determinism states that everything has a cause or set of causes and that the same causes produce the same effects. What I'm saying (it is not said by me only, but it's a fairly widespread philosophical thesis today) is that metaphysical determinism cannot be proven or refuted. That is why it is metaphysical.

But that does not detract value to the principle of causality. It just has to be interpreted in a different way. Hence my question:
"Take the hammer by the handle.
Is it a true or false proposition or neither?
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:10 AM   #255
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Nothing can be proven, but any particular thing is still either true or false, though for some things we may never know which.

For many unprovable things we can still examine evidence in favor (or not) and thus change the credence we put in those ideas. This is all we can do.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:20 AM   #256
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
No, they don't. We keep coming up with new ones and with neo-whatever variations, but all the old ones are still there unchanged (and many of them are still on the exam in philosophy courses). Determinism was defined perfectly well by Democritus.

What changes is our understanding of how a given philosophy might apply to systems in the real world. Democritus had no idea a deterministic machine could solve problems, remember past events, or form plans of action. We know better now.
Say it however you like, but modern determinism is very different from that of Democritus, even in its very formulation because it is a philosophical system. Also moral relativism already existed in Greece. But it was quite different from today's relativism. Philosophical systems change just as moral philosophies change. They are philosophy.

Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
You don't think removing parts from a person or wiping a person's memory to correct their behavior, or destroying them completely to replace them with a smarter person, would be considered excessive punishments? We routinely do those things to computers to correct their behavior.

Of course my attitude is different. I would never treat a person that way. We treat people more kindly and correct their misbehavior in much gentler ways, for a variety of good reasons.
It doesn't seem to me either that brainwashing a person is morally acceptable. Even if it can be done. Because I believe that the moral person has a dignity. But I don't think the deterministic has any reason to condemn such practices. If there is no freedom, men are like machines. And machines have no dignity. As Hans says in this forum, it's all a question of whether "the majority of society" is interested. If a majority considers it fair to apply aggressive therapies to criminals or our enemies, why not? Or even people who are not properly speaking criminals. If immigrants bother me on the street, why not let them die at sea or in the desert trying to get to my city? Why can't we shoot to kill if they get too close to the border? This is not a mere theorical problem, you know.

Of course, determinists are offended when you explain this. They say they have their morals. I don't doubt it. It's usually one form or another of utilitarianism. But it seems to me that utilitarianism is inconsistent with their deterministic principles.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:31 AM   #257
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
While TECHNICALLY moral responsibility -- well, "moral evil" -- is defined as "something 'bad' that was caused by intentional action or inaction of a human agent", and thus a computer wouldn't qualify, it changes less than you seem to think. I can still decide whether what the computer did was good or bad, and I can still decide if a different course of action would be better.
That the computer did a bad operation, that's not disputed. You can say that it was responsible, if you want, but that responsibility is very different from a person's responsibility. For example, the programmer. The programmer can be taken to court if it is considered that there was negligence or malice in programming the computer. Hence,there seem to be two different types of responsibility. That's the question. Do you understand the difference? I do. It lies in intention. But if the programmer did it wrong because he had a terrorist pointing a gun at him, things change again. He can no longer be held responsible or not so responsible. Why? The answer lies in freedom or lack of freedom of the agent of the harm. It seems obvious to me.

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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:34 AM   #258
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yet that is not what you have claimed.

Well, except as a dodge when I asked why would philosophy school X, Y or Z give up on their approach and go 'ah, just gas the retarded then.' THEN you suddenly are aware that there's more than one school of moral philosophy, and one may have different criteria than another.

But otherwise what you repeatedly claimed is that there's some inevitable causal connection between (A) believing in determinism, and (B) wanting to gas the retarded, just like Hitler.

What you're effectively trying to have is both an "All A are B" claim, AND a convenient excuse to handwave why counter-examples don't really count. It doesn't work that way.

So which one is it, silly? DOES it follow that inevitably, or can you dodge behind some version of 'well, there's more than one school of moral philosophy, and they change all the time'? One or the other. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
I'm sorry you misunderstand what I write. What I have said several times is that there is a logical incompatibility between being deterministic and condemning forced euthanasia. That determinists try to overcome the difficulty with incoherence is another issue. I do not accuse determinists of being monsters, but of being inconsistent.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:37 AM   #259
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Originally Posted by winter salt View Post
Is that "perceived capacity to sense, decide, and act" a description of free will ?
How do they develop?
Just asking.
There are two things where it seems that a computer is different from a human being. In the ability to act outside the margins for which it has been computed and in the ability to feel compassion. This seems indisputable.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:40 AM   #260
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Nothing can be proven, but any particular thing is still either true or false, though for some things we may never know which.

For many unprovable things we can still examine evidence in favor (or not) and thus change the credence we put in those ideas. This is all we can do.
"You must take the hammer by the handle."
How do you prove this is true?
A hint: this statement is an order or a recommendation. An order is not true or false.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 03:42 AM   #261
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I'm sorry you misunderstand what I write. What I have said several times is that there is a logical incompatibility between being deterministic and condemning forced euthanasia. That determinists try to overcome the difficulty with incoherence is another issue. I do not accuse determinists of being monsters, but of being inconsistent.
1. Err, no. What you actually said includes such gems as: "If you are determinist the word “persuade” has not many sense. There are caused behaviours. If you can modify a behaviour changing its causes, you do it. If you cannot do it, you can eliminate the problem. This is to say, eliminating retarded persons. The final solution, you know." (message #150)

Or: "A thief, a killer or a corrupt politician are the same for a determinist. They are behaviours which must be stopped. If you can change their behaviours, you do it. If you cannot, you eliminate the individuals. Or you punish them in a so awful way than other possible evildoers are dissuaded." (message #150 again.)

That's saying something completely different. It's flat out making claims about how determinists think. It's an "All X are Y" claim.


2. Even taking it that way, you still haven't shown a single determinist author actually ending up struggling with such an implication, or being inconsistent about it. Which, again, makes it just your very own strawman.

You have cited a single name so far, namely "F.B. Skinner" (which already raises red flags because it's actually B.F. Skinner), but nothing in what you quoted actually shows him reaching that implication or being inconsistent about it.


3. I don't think you've actually read Skinner, nor even tried to understand the one paragraph (most likely quote-mined from a secondary source) that you provided here about what he said. Because even your own paragraph contradicts what you then postulate about how determinists think.

E.g., you say that "If you are determinist the word “persuade” has not many sense", but even your own paragraph about Skinner's work contradicts you there. Because it says exactly that persuasion works. Sure, it works best when social pressure is applied, or via deprogramming programs, but it does work.

E.g., you say that if you're a determinist, "you punish them in a so awful way than other possible evildoers are dissuaded." But if you had actually read anything by or even about Skinner, you'd know that what he actually said on the topic of punishments is that relying on punishments to suppress behaviour is at best temporary and can have unintended and unwanted consequences.

More importantly, you'd also know that he introduced a third category besides reward or punishment, namely extinction: the systematic absence of a reward stimulus, as a way to make certain behaviours go away. And incidentally as something to be aware not to do to desired behaviours.

What I actually see there isn't you even really trying to show where Skinner went wrong, but your usual going into your own flights of fantasy based on one quote-mined quote from some secondary source. And even there you do some surreal reading between the lines, while ignoring the actual lines. That's not a proof that Skinner was wrong, but that your style of arguing based on your own fantasy is wrong.

So, again, exactly where DOES Skinner run into this kind of problem and how is he inconsistent about it? Otherwise, again, you're just fighting your own strawmen.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:43 PM   #262
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Originally Posted by winter salt View Post
Is that "perceived capacity to sense, decide, and act" a description of free will ?

It's a description of part of how we cognitively model the world. "Making a decision" is something that the entities in our mental models do. This is useful in our mental models because it points to possible opportunities to alter the outcome in advantageous ways.

Our ancestors had no way to perceive "if I perform certain actions that will optically generate certain patterns in a certain photoreceptors belonging to a cooperative colony of cells, it is very likely to set in motion nerve impulses in certain pathway's of the colony's central nervous system cells that will ultimately result in a reaction that signals the colony's contractile tissues in patterns that result in decreasing proximity between myself and the colony's big pointy teeth." The causal pathways involved are hidden from direct perception and are too complex to follow anyhow.

But they could perceive this instead: "If I stand up tall and wave my stick, the bear will likely decide to run away instead of attacking me."

The latter is a narrative mental model that's far simpler to compute and act upon. Being a mere summary, it leaves out details, and it replaces them with idea-chunks instead. Some of those chunks are fairly accurate depictions of reality. "The bear" really does correspond, for the most part, with a particular and persistent collection of matter. "Running away" really does correspond, for the most part, with a particular and (for a while) persistent pattern of change. But one of those chunks is merely a useful fiction: the word "decide."

In nature, nothing makes decisions. The loose rock doesn't decide whether or not to fall, the semiconductor logic gate doesn't decide whether to output 1 or 0, the synapse doesn't decide to strengthen or the neuron to fire. Those are all effects of causes, likely in some cases with quantum randomness involved as well. "Deciding" is something the characters in our mental summary narratives do.

The useful fiction says this: "The mind (or spirit) of the bear has free will and a decision to make. This gives me a chance to affect what happens by my actions, and I can learn and teach what actions are effective it getting the outcome I prefer." Because, of course, it actually is possible to influence the outcome, and it's far easier to understand that in terms of the useful fictions "free will" and "decision" than in terms of the bear's sensory receptors and neural processes.

Quote:
How do they develop?

They evolved from biological systems of reaction to environmental stimuli.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:51 PM   #263
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I don't think that the mainstream meaning of "decide" hinges on free will, though. Nor is it the only one, in any case. Computer Science for example is quite happy to talk about, for example, a decision tree. Or a decision list. Or a decision table.

The fact that the agent, in this case a computer, has absolutely no free will whatsoever, doesn't change the fact that most people would say that in a certain situation it "decided" for a certain option, out of the many available in that situation. Or at the very least would understand what you mean if you say the computer decided to do X. E.g., to move the knight to threaten the queen on a chess table.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 12:58 PM   #264
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
It doesn't seem to me either that brainwashing a person is morally acceptable. Even if it can be done. Because I believe that the moral person has a dignity. But I don't think the deterministic has any reason to condemn such practices. If there is no freedom, men are like machines. And machines have no dignity. As Hans says in this forum, it's all a question of whether "the majority of society" is interested. If a majority considers it fair to apply aggressive therapies to criminals or our enemies, why not? Or even people who are not properly speaking criminals. If immigrants bother me on the street, why not let them die at sea or in the desert trying to get to my city? Why can't we shoot to kill if they get too close to the border? This is not a mere theorical problem, you know.

Of course, determinists are offended when you explain this. They say they have their morals. I don't doubt it. It's usually one form or another of utilitarianism. But it seems to me that utilitarianism is inconsistent with their deterministic principles.

"I don't think the deterministic [sic] has any reason to condemn such practices."

Yet, those reasons have been pointed out to you repeatedly by several different people in this thread.

Which means, at this point, you are just preaching, and you're preaching the preacher's oldest and vilest preach: "I you don't think as I do you're incapable of morality."

What other versions of that have I heard? Here are a few:

"Atheists don't have any reason to be moral because they don't believe in God or in punishment in the afterlife."

"Christians don't have any reason to be moral because they believe their sins have been redeemed in advance and can be forgiven at any time."

"Muslims don't have any reason to be moral because their scripture promises them paradise if they kill infidels."

"Capitalists don't have any reason to be moral because making money is the only thing that matters."

"Socialists don't have any reason to be moral because the state promises to provide all their needs regardless."

"Gays don't have any reason to be moral because their sexuality doesn't produce offspring so they have no descendants' futures to worry about."


Please do stop teasing and tell me now, what is it that you demand I DO believe about the nature of reality, in order for you to regard me as capable of morality?
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Old 23rd June 2019, 01:18 PM   #265
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I don't think that the mainstream meaning of "decide" hinges on free will, though. Nor is it the only one, in any case. Computer Science for example is quite happy to talk about, for example, a decision tree. Or a decision list. Or a decision table.

The fact that the agent, in this case a computer, has absolutely no free will whatsoever, doesn't change the fact that most people would say that in a certain situation it "decided" for a certain option, out of the many available in that situation. Or at the very least would understand what you mean if you say the computer decided to do X. E.g., to move the knight to threaten the queen on a chess table.

I agree. The way I'd put it is, we apply to the computer chess program the same simplified mental model, the same useful fiction, that we apply to the bear or to the person. And for the same reason: it's too complex (and for most, too hidden) a process to apprehend in terms of its actual steps of cause and effect, even though cause and effect (plus possible randomness) is what's happening. Instead, our mental model invokes a fictional singular entity (the bear's or person's "mind" or the computer's "program"*) that is performing a fictional singular monolithic task, "deciding."

*Wait, doesn't a computer program really exist? Yes, as an collection of information in the computer's memory. But a computer only executes a program one step (or a few steps) at a time. Saying "the program is running" depicts the program as an abstract summary entity doing an abstract summary thing. It's a useful mental model just like "the bear is running."
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Old 23rd June 2019, 01:37 PM   #266
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
"I don't think the deterministic [sic] has any reason to condemn such practices."

Yet, those reasons have been pointed out to you repeatedly by several different people in this thread.

Which means, at this point, you are just preaching, and you're preaching the preacher's oldest and vilest preach: "I you don't think as I do you're incapable of morality."

What other versions of that have I heard? Here are a few:

"Atheists don't have any reason to be moral because they don't believe in God or in punishment in the afterlife."

"Christians don't have any reason to be moral because they believe their sins have been redeemed in advance and can be forgiven at any time."

"Muslims don't have any reason to be moral because their scripture promises them paradise if they kill infidels."

"Capitalists don't have any reason to be moral because making money is the only thing that matters."

"Socialists don't have any reason to be moral because the state promises to provide all their needs regardless."

"Gays don't have any reason to be moral because their sexuality doesn't produce offspring so they have no descendants' futures to worry about."


Please do stop teasing and tell me now, what is it that you demand I DO believe about the nature of reality, in order for you to regard me as capable of morality?
Well, really just in free will, far as I can tell.

As I was saying, he didn't explain it particularly well here, but there was another thread a while ago that he derailed into morality, and got pushed into explaining how his works. And it really was what I was calling earlier a crap OCPD solution whenever one of those encounters an optimization problem. He reduced it all to one variable, "freedom", and maximizing only that one.

Everything else, he rationalized around that one. E.g., killing was bad because it robs the victim of the most freedom. (He ain't gonna be taking any more decisions after that.)

Of course, he didn't actually seem to have much of a working moral system. That reduction to one variable didn't seem to be able even to say if an assault and battery is justified if you really need something the other person has. But he was adamant that that's the only solution, the only POSSIBLE moral system that could ever work.

Well, enter the premise that you're not "free" if your reasons determine your choice for you, and his whole system stops working. Not entirely sure why, because nobody else ever defined freedom as acting chaotically, free of any rhyme or reason. And one could even redefine the same system to minimize coercion instead. But there we go, if your actions aren't "free" of being caused by any reason whatsoever, his moral system stops working.

I'm sure most people would just take that as an ad absurdum indication that their logic took a wrong turn at Albuquerque, but for him it seems to indicate that everyone ELSE is wrong
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Old 23rd June 2019, 02:17 PM   #267
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Great explanations Myriad und Hans, thank you.
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Old 23rd June 2019, 04:37 PM   #268
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, enter the premise that you're not "free" if your reasons determine your choice for you, and his whole system stops working. Not entirely sure why, because nobody else ever defined freedom as acting chaotically, free of any rhyme or reason.

I was going to bring that up eventually. I've pointed out before that the less rhyme or reason we perceive in a person's actions, the less (not more) likely we are to attribute those actions to the person exercising their free will. Instead, we start talking about compulsions, neuroses, phobias, addictions, delusions, acting upon misinformation (such as buying into a scam), being "under the sway" of a bully or a charismatic leader, and so forth.

"I rushed to the hardware store, bought a gallon of bright yellow paint, and poured it all over my own head in the parking lot. All for no reason whatsoever. I'm sure you would never do such a thing, unless you were coerced somehow or pursuing some substantial reward. That proves my free will is freer than yours." Does that make any sense?
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Old 23rd June 2019, 11:40 PM   #269
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
1. Err, no. What you actually said includes such gems as: "If you are determinist the word ďpersuadeĒ has not many sense. There are caused behaviours. If you can modify a behaviour changing its causes, you do it. If you cannot do it, you can eliminate the problem. This is to say, eliminating retarded persons. The final solution, you know." (message #150)

Or: "A thief, a killer or a corrupt politician are the same for a determinist. They are behaviours which must be stopped. If you can change their behaviours, you do it. If you cannot, you eliminate the individuals. Or you punish them in a so awful way than other possible evildoers are dissuaded." (message #150 again.)

That's saying something completely different. It's flat out making claims about how determinists think. It's an "All X are Y" claim.


2. Even taking it that way, you still haven't shown a single determinist author actually ending up struggling with such an implication, or being inconsistent about it. Which, again, makes it just your very own strawman.

You have cited a single name so far, namely "F.B. Skinner" (which already raises red flags because it's actually B.F. Skinner), but nothing in what you quoted actually shows him reaching that implication or being inconsistent about it.


3. I don't think you've actually read Skinner, nor even tried to understand the one paragraph (most likely quote-mined from a secondary source) that you provided here about what he said. Because even your own paragraph contradicts what you then postulate about how determinists think.

E.g., you say that "If you are determinist the word ďpersuadeĒ has not many sense", but even your own paragraph about Skinner's work contradicts you there. Because it says exactly that persuasion works. Sure, it works best when social pressure is applied, or via deprogramming programs, but it does work.

E.g., you say that if you're a determinist, "you punish them in a so awful way than other possible evildoers are dissuaded." But if you had actually read anything by or even about Skinner, you'd know that what he actually said on the topic of punishments is that relying on punishments to suppress behaviour is at best temporary and can have unintended and unwanted consequences.

More importantly, you'd also know that he introduced a third category besides reward or punishment, namely extinction: the systematic absence of a reward stimulus, as a way to make certain behaviours go away. And incidentally as something to be aware not to do to desired behaviours.

What I actually see there isn't you even really trying to show where Skinner went wrong, but your usual going into your own flights of fantasy based on one quote-mined quote from some secondary source. And even there you do some surreal reading between the lines, while ignoring the actual lines. That's not a proof that Skinner was wrong, but that your style of arguing based on your own fantasy is wrong.

So, again, exactly where DOES Skinner run into this kind of problem and how is he inconsistent about it? Otherwise, again, you're just fighting your own strawmen.
Quoting excerpts out of context form a single post is bad practice. As a comment can be misinterpreted I worried to explain my idea better in other posts. See 117, 154, 174 and 202 among others.

On the power of moral sermons, according to Skinner:
Skinner affirms that familiar or social pressure determines the behaviour. Therefore a person can be influenced if he is blamed by a parent or a friend. But this is not due to moral reasoning but to personal or social influence. Therefore this personal influence can be used in more efficient ways than moral sermons. (117 and again in 130!)
On the moral consequences of determinism
My argument is analytical. It is based on an inconsistency of determinism. That is to say, the postulates of determinism lead to conclusions that are contradictory to common intuitions and are undesirable even to determinists. (154)
It is obvious that this conclusion repulses our moral sense and, in fact, whenever it has been posed in to a deterministic he has tried to avoid it in some inconsistent way. Generally they covertly introduce the free decision. The Nazis and others like them are not so inconsistent. (172)
My position was definitively summarized in 202.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
GENERAL WARNING.
Some of you don't quite understand the problem. I will put it another way: It's not a question of whether indeterminism or determinism drives people to do bad things. Probably the proportion of evil will be the same or similar in both cases. The problem is that if we admit that certain behaviours are morally undesirable what is the ethical theory that can best explain why they are.
I think it's clear that I'm not accusing Skinner or any other determinist in particular of defending concentration camps or police brutality. What I'm saying is that the logic of their positions prevents them from having a consistent moral argument against these and other aberrations. I hope this is definitely clear to you and that you don't continue bothering with the same tune.Because speaking of straw men, you have a great deal of experience in this field, as I have just demonstrated.

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Old 24th June 2019, 12:02 AM   #270
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Mate, I don't know what kind of confusion of the mind makes you think that repeating the same bare assertions, in fact making it clear that you're repeating the same postulates YOU wrote before, is settling the issue of whether it's a strawman. We are not in The Hunting Of The Snark and you are not the Bellman. A bare postulate doesn't become true if you just say it three times.

Show where SKINNER runs into such a consistency issue. Otherwise, yes, you are fighting your own strawman.
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Old 24th June 2019, 12:18 AM   #271
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
I was going to bring that up eventually. I've pointed out before that the less rhyme or reason we perceive in a person's actions, the less (not more) likely we are to attribute those actions to the person exercising their free will. Instead, we start talking about compulsions, neuroses, phobias, addictions, delusions, acting upon misinformation (such as buying into a scam), being "under the sway" of a bully or a charismatic leader, and so forth.
Well, technically even acting on bad information, or trying to please a bully or charismatic leader would qualify as reasons when you decide whether to do something or not. As would acting on a phobia or delusion, or acting to satisfy an addiction. They may not be good reasons, or sane reasons, but it's still some data going into the process and determining the output. It's just, as they say, garbage in, garbage out. But the "in" part still determines the "out" part. So it still wouldn't qualify as free in David's view.

I'm rather under the impression that it would have to be truly and completely random and unconnected to any needs or previous experiences where the action ever satisfied any need, to qualify as "freedom" for him. Something like "I was out of cigarettes, so I took a skip around the house, dragging my pet rock on a leash" or "I was getting late for the meeting, so I took the time to hack my front door down and draw a penis on the sidewalk."

Of course, even skipping over how that would just qualify as insane rather than "free", that just rises the question of how that kind of acting free of reasons is even compatible with any imaginable morality system. Because having a moral system also means having certain rules that act as reasons for whatever you decide to do. E.g., my believing that rape is wrong is the reason I don't do more than *ahem* covet my neighbour's ass. If my actions were free of having any reasons, it seems to me like such moral reasons would also not apply.

Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
"I rushed to the hardware store, bought a gallon of bright yellow paint, and poured it all over my own head in the parking lot. All for no reason whatsoever. I'm sure you would never do such a thing, unless you were coerced somehow or pursuing some substantial reward. That proves my free will is freer than yours." Does that make any sense?
Not really, no.
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Old 24th June 2019, 12:24 AM   #272
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
"I don't think the deterministic [sic] has any reason to condemn such practices."

Yet, those reasons have been pointed out to you repeatedly by several different people in this thread.

Which means, at this point, you are just preaching, and you're preaching the preacher's oldest and vilest preach: "I you don't think as I do you're incapable of morality."

What other versions of that have I heard? Here are a few:

"Atheists don't have any reason to be moral because they don't believe in God or in punishment in the afterlife."

"Christians don't have any reason to be moral because they believe their sins have been redeemed in advance and can be forgiven at any time."

"Muslims don't have any reason to be moral because their scripture promises them paradise if they kill infidels."

"Capitalists don't have any reason to be moral because making money is the only thing that matters."

"Socialists don't have any reason to be moral because the state promises to provide all their needs regardless."

"Gays don't have any reason to be moral because their sexuality doesn't produce offspring so they have no descendants' futures to worry about."


Please do stop teasing and tell me now, what is it that you demand I DO believe about the nature of reality, in order for you to regard me as capable of morality?
From my comment 202:
I will put it another way: It's not a question of whether indeterminism or determinism drives people to do bad things. Probably the proportion of evil will be the same or similar in both cases. The problem is that if we admit that certain behaviours are morally undesirable what is the ethical theory that can best explain why they are.
The accusation that atheism or any other belief is incapable of justifying morality is entirely legitimate. In the case of atheism it is also totally false. But if it were true I would worry about looking for the reasons to hold moral principles. It would be a real problem for me, who am an atheist and believe in moral obligation.

The word "reason" was probably ambiguous. I think in English, as in Spanish, it means either to motivate or give a rational explanation. The second sense corresponds to what I wanted to say.

I have said several times that I was not blaming determinists to be immoral. To maintain inconsistent reasons to do something is a frequent thing in the day to day life. It is because passions are stronger that reason. And good passions are the basis of morality.

What I am after is the justification of moral.
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Old 24th June 2019, 12:37 AM   #273
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You are nevertheless claiming that they haven't solved the problem satisfactorily. I still expect you to provide some quotes that show that to be the case.

So far, frankly, you've only shown that YOUR idea of a moral system falls apart under those conditions. (Not to mention having some bigger problems, like with recognizing rights for the disabled or retarded.) You haven't done anything to show that SKINNER's system has a problem there.

Basically all I see is still just you barking at your own strawmen.
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Old 24th June 2019, 12:53 AM   #274
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Show where SKINNER runs into such a consistency issue. Otherwise, yes, you are fighting your own strawman.
Ay caramba! I could have sworn that I have been trying for a few days to make you understand that metaphysical determinism is contrary to the concept of freedom and that without freedom we cannot attribute responsibility and that without responsibility there is no condemnation or moral merit.
Do you want me to quote you where Skinner defends determinism? No problem, if you commit to tell me the precise sources of your knowledge of moral determinism.

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Old 24th June 2019, 02:43 AM   #275
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I continue my argumentation (part 3):
1. There is a contradiction between determinism and the justification of moral principles and responsibility or merit.
2. This contradiction can only be solved by the substitution of one of the two parts.
(I set aside the second and concentrate on the first).
3. The contradiction disappears if we replace the concept of metaphysical (or "scientific") determinism with that of methodological determinism.

That is my subsequent line of argument (part 4). .
1. To begin with: determinism is not a scientific concept. It is a philosophical concept.
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Old 24th June 2019, 05:20 AM   #276
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Ay caramba! I could have sworn that I have been trying for a few days to make you understand that metaphysical determinism is contrary to the concept of freedom and that without freedom we cannot attribute responsibility and that without responsibility there is no condemnation or moral merit.
Do you want me to quote you where Skinner defends determinism?
No, I want you to show where SKINNER's theory is self-inconsistent, since that is what you claim about it.

All you've shown so far is that YOUR dysfunctional moral system has a problem with "freedom", or rather with YOUR very own redefinition of "freedom". And, frankly, it was already obvious that your supposed moral system flat out doesn't work for more than spewing generalities anyway. You've made that amply clear in the previous thread. So, that one more problem breaks it completely, well, I'd venture a guess that it's not surprising anyone.

You just POSTULATE that other moral systems can't solve the problem of morality the way THEY set out to do it, because YOU find it too hard. Essentially it boils down to postulating that if YOU can't solve a given problem, then everyone who says he found a solution (or at least a partial one) must be wrong. Which is exactly on par with Pixie Of Key's insisting that GR is wrong because HE doesn't understand it.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
No problem, if you commit to tell me the precise sources of your knowledge of moral determinism.
I'm not the one making the claim that such an inconsistency exists, silly. It's your burden of proof.
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Old 24th June 2019, 05:29 AM   #277
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Determinism does not imply any kind of too compassionate morality. Quite the opposite.

Should I just forget about this ?
So it was HansMustermann's claim that you were quoting.
Hey Hans ! What did you mean here ?

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Old 24th June 2019, 06:19 AM   #278
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That's most certainly not something I've ever written.
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Old 24th June 2019, 06:33 AM   #279
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
No, I want you to show where SKINNER's theory is self-inconsistent, since that is what you claim about it.

(...)I'm not the one making the claim that such an inconsistency exists, silly. It's your burden of proof.
It's only you getting tangled up one more time.

I've already exposed where the contradiction resides in Skinner (and other deterministic psychologists). You're the one who says I'm explaining Skinner wrong. If you say so, you must prove it. Cite your sources and how I am misleadingly explaining Skinner's position. By quoting. I don't mind quoting Skinner directly. You seem uncomfortable with your sources. Maybe because he doesn't know very well what he's talking about. Quote your sources and I quote mine. Let's see who misinterprets Skinner.

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Old 24th June 2019, 06:56 AM   #280
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Originally Posted by winter salt View Post
Should I just forget about this ?
So it was HansMustermann's claim that you were quoting.
Hey Hans ! What did you mean here ?
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
That's most certainly not something I've ever written.
This means that the postulates of metaphysical determinism leave no room for a morality of compassion. Because determinism is a theory about causes and effects. While a morality of compassion presupposes the priority of some feelings over others, of the altruists over the selfish, something that determinism cannot establish. Attempts such as the common good, what the majority wants, etc. are empty.

As for Hans' memory, don't pay much attention to it. It's very bad. Here he is talking about compassion. By the way, it's a good example of how metaphysical determinism doesn't imply compassion. What counts is effectiveness. Compassion is irrelevant. Ask him why, if it is not sufficiently clear.

Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
It's really most philosophically useful to me for the purposes of forgiveness and compassion.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Is it? One of the purposes -- and arguably the MAIN purpose -- of laws and social norms is deterrence. If everything is forgiven, then there is really no reason not to do something evil.

(...)Basically deterministic or not, free will or not, deterrence works. If you think people deciding not to do something unlawful don't have free will in that choice, good. All the better, in fact. I see no reason to change that, then.
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